Black historic sites nominated as city landmarks

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Wave Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — A partnership between the city of Los Angeles and Getty will bring forward four new historic buildings for nomination as city landmarks, all of which represent a piece of Black history, officials announced June 26.

The African American Historic Places, Los Angeles, formerly known as the Los Angeles African American Historic Places Project, which was launched by the city and Getty in 2021, aims to identify, protect and celebrate the city’s Black heritage.

The project nominated four buildings to be designated as historic cultural monuments, including:

• Thee California Eagle Office, 4071-4075 S. Central Ave., the oldest African American newspapers in Los Angeles.

• First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2270 S. Harvard Blvd., which was constructed by 1968 to accommodate the growing number of members of the church.

• The Tom and Ethel Bradley Residence, 3807 Welland Ave., the residence of former L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley.

• And StylesVille Beauty & Barbershop, 13161 Van Nuys Blvd, one of the oldest Black barbershop and beauty salons in San Fernando Valley.

In all, the buildings represent the “many ways in which African-American history was made throughout the city,” according to a statement from Getty.

“I am honored for the opportunity to add to the work that my colleagues and mentors are already doing with respect to reinserting the hidden history of African Americans into the larger narrative of Los Angeles history,” Rita Cofield, associate project specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute and project leader, said in a statement.

“The most exciting part of the project for me is doing the work to identify more historic sites associated with African Americans in a way that I hope will be more meaningful to the communities where they are found, because they will be leading the way,” she added.

According to the organizers, the city’s traditional historic designation programs do not yet “equitably encompass the diversity and richness of the African American experience” in Los Angeles. About 4% of the city’s approximately 1,280 locally designated landmarks, known as historic cultural monuments, reflect Black history.

The project team, led by Cofield, intends to increase representation and support future projects to preserve history of other races and ethnic groups in the city.

“We’re pleased to begin advancing additional African American heritage sites for historic designation and engaging with the community more deeply to gather stories about significant places that have long been overlooked, while we also reevaluate the city’s historic preservation policies and practices through an equity lens,” Vince Bertoni, director of planning for the city of L.A., said in a statement.

Roland Wiley, chairman of the historic cultural monument nominating committee of African American Historic Places, Los Angeles, added they are looking forward to the next phase of the project that will “deepen our engagement with African American communities across the city.”

“Everyone involved in this project recognizes the importance of increasing public awareness of our African American Cultural Landmarks,” Wiley added. “We have put great care and consideration into how to approach this very complex and historically important project, and I am encouraged by the progress we have made.”

The nominations will be deliberated by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission later this year, as the project continues to identify additional sites for historic designation.

In addition, the group will continue to expand the city’s historic preservation framework for African- American history and develop cultural preservation strategies with three historically Black neighborhoods.

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